Seasonal Allergies and Your Dog
Tips to Help Your Dog Deal with Seasonal Allergies
For many of us, spring means seasonal allergies. Whether you have a runny nose, itchy eyes, or endless sneezing, seasonal allergies can be a real pain.
Just like us, some dogs suffer from seasonal allergies as well. Besides chemicals, like those found in household cleaning products, cigarette smoke and certain perfumes, dogs can also be allergic to natural, seasonal substances. This can include plant and tree pollens, mold spores, dust, feathers and fleas.
A dog’s allergy symptoms are generally similar to those experienced by humans: the immune system overreacts, leading to itchiness and irritation. Your dog may lick or scratch, develop irritated eyes, or sneeze repeatedly. Some dogs experience itchy, swollen skin, while others suffer from diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, a secondary infection can develop.
Here are a few things you can do to do to help control any discomfort your dog may be dealing with due to seasonal allergies, and reduce the risk of more serious problems.
CHANGE YOUR DAILY WALK ROUTINE
If possible, avoid walking your dog in the early morning or late afternoon, when pollen levels are typically highest. Steer clear of the fields and parks where offending plants are common. When you return home, wipe your dog’s body and paws with a moist cloth or a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free grooming wipe from your local pet store. This will remove excess pollen and allergens from your dog’s fur and skin without the hassle of a full bath. Pay special attention to their paws, as the sensitive skin here is often affected by allergens.
CLEAR THE AIR… AND OTHER SURFACES
Regularly change your home air filters to cut down on airborne allergens that enter through open doors and windows. Running an air conditioner or a dehumidifier will help remove moisture from interior air, making it harder for mold to grow in your home. Minimize the amount of time your dog spends in damp environments, such as basements, bathrooms, or laundry rooms, as these places are more susceptible to mold growth. Vacuum at least once a week, and remember to clean curtains and rugs that may have picked up dust and pollen.
DON’T SLEEP ON IT
Your dogs bedding can become covered in allergens, so make sure they’re kept clean by being washed in hot water every week. Put towels or blankets on top of beds (yours and theirs) and chairs to make cleaning easier. Also, make sure your dog’s toys get washed regularly.
TAKE A BATH
Prevent dry, itchy skin by giving your dog a bath more often with your veterinarian’s advice. Wash their fur with a gentle, hypoallergenic anti-itch shampoo that contains a soothing ingredient such as oatmeal or aloe.
SUPPLEMENT YOUR DOG’S DIET
You may try giving your dog a natural dietary supplement such as fish oil or a fatty acid such as omega-3 or omega-6 oil to reduce itchiness and improve overall skin health. Coconut oil has also been shown to suppress allergic reactions while contributing to healthier skin. Be sure to introduce these oils gradually, as they can cause gastrointestinal upset if a whole dose is given all at once. Finally, make sure your dog’s drinking water (and bowl) are kept clean.
If your dog won’t stop licking, scratching, and chewing, has red and irritated skin or hair loss, make an appointment to see your vet. Depending on the seriousness of the problem, a professional can provide more aggressive treatments such as antihistamines, steroids, or allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy.